marc jacobs’ fall/winter 16 goth queens

Epicly extravagant and eerily beautiful, Marc Jacobs’ procession of darkly ornamented living dolls closed out New York Fashion Week last night.

by Alice Newell-Hanson
19 February 2016, 4:25pm

Marc Jacobs has created glittery odes to Americana in gilded cinemas, staged military drills in Pepto-pink worlds, and channeled the baroque interiors of Diana Vreeland's New York apartment. But his set at last night's show at the Park Avenue Armory was — though all-white and almost not a set at all — his most dramatic yet.

Before the models entered the icy white circular arena, their shadows were visible, looming up against a blank white backdrop. They seemed supernaturally proportioned — their clothes voluminous and their bodies extended. It was a literal foreshadowing of the silhouette Jacobs created this season: wide skirted and perilously tall.

The models towered on glossy patent and velvet platform boots (think "tripping down a Vivienne Westwood runway" high) that fastened up the leg to create an exaggerated spindly effect. Somehow, despite the 10-inch heels, they seemed to glide around the imposing open floor space. And the mood their movement and faces conjured — their eyes dripping with smeary black tears — could not have been more different from the semi-jubilant tone of Jacobs' spring/summer 16 collection, in which Beth Ditto sauntered down a red carpet in a glittering white gown to whoops and cheers. (Compare Lady Gaga's somber cameo this season, in dark-green fur and black lipstick.)

But the detailing of that season carried over into fall. No feather, sequin, or embroidery was left on Jacobs' studio floor; he explored every dark corner of gothica with his signature ornamental flourishes. Cartoonish black cats covered silk pussybow blouses. A giant grey-wash denim jacket dripped with coweb-like chains and witchy patches. Little sweaters in grey and black check (which called to mind mysterious Hot Topic-wearing high-schoolers), were riddled with moth holes. And Jamie Bochert's purple-and-black striped silk gown had all the villainous swoosh of Ursula the Sea Witch.

But there was also a girlishness peeking through the darkness. Felted Greek letters on oversized cardigans, striped tights, polka dots, and the occasional pop of bubblegum pink rounded out a character that felt more Gothic Lolita, Wednesday Addams, or Emily Strange than truly demonic.

That sense of sinister sweetness came to a climax in a spine-chillingly epic conclusion. Following a procession of girls wearing looming four-foot-wide mountains of skirt, came Molly Bair (already a casual six foot tall in barefeet) like a beautiful black-lipped giantess. Draped in a floor-sweeping checkered pink-and-black fur cape, her body engulfed in a mass of black taffeta, she seemed not to wear the clothes but be a part of them. She moved like a gothic queen on the white square of a giant chessboard that we were all watching, transfixed.


Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Umberto Fratini

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